Friday, July 28, 2017

Shellfish Caution

Vibrio is back in the news. Here's what you need to know.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 11:09 AM

UPDATE: Vibrio vulnificus, a potentially dangerous bacterium, is always lurking in Virginia waterways, but dramatic cases bring it back into news. An Essex County woman may lose her finger after swimming in the Rappahannock River last weekend, the Times-Dispatch reports.

In 2015, the last time vibrio was suddenly on everyone's mind when a Mechanicsville man died after contracting it, I wrote an explainer that is, unfortunately, timely once again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015: Charlie Horner, a Mechanicville grandfather and veteran, died from a puncture wound he received while fishing in the Rappahannock River late last month. After his death, Vibrio vulnificus suddenly was in the news, often characterized as flesh-eating bacteria. That’s true, but it isn’t the whole story.

Vibrio more commonly is known as a warm-water-loving bacterium, which can infect unsuspecting diners who eat raw shellfish. And a lot of us like our shellfish — particularly oysters — raw.

You often hear that you should eat oysters only in months that contain the letter R. That’s because summer water temperatures are ideal for the bacteria to grow. Nevertheless, whether we like it or not, there’s a low level of Vibrio in the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia rivers throughout the year. That doesn’t mean it’s dangerous — although for the elderly, people with liver disease and the immune-compromised, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise avoiding raw shellfish.

There were only 11 cases in the state confirmed last year. So far, there have been 17 this year. And Virginia has tough regulations on the books for harvesting shellfish.

During the summer months, for example, oysters must be harvested and back at the dock by 10 a.m. and put into refrigeration. While the boat is out, all oysters must be shaded.

In June, boats have only three hours to go out to harvest, and during July and August, that time is reduced to two hours. If you want to bring in oysters later in the day, you must put a Virginia Marine Resources Commission-approved GPS tracking device on your boat to make sure you get back within the time limit. Any other transportation after the oysters leave the facility also must be refrigerated.

“[The] industry has invested hundreds of millions of dollars on ice makers, refrigerated trucks, shade, coolers,” says Robert Rheault, president of the East Coast Shellfish Grower’s Association, “and almost every state has been forced to tighten post-harvest refrigeration regulations.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Grocery Delivery, Coffee, Ice Cream + More

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 12:21 PM

Why are Richmond restaurants burning down? A devastating fire broke out at the 40-year-old Tobacco Company Restaurant this weekend and management says that it will be closed indefinitely. It follows a blaze July 1 at Carytown taco spot Don’t Look Back, which will take six months to repair, according to owner Hami Shamooda. Last year, both Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream and Rappahannock suffered fires, but are back in business.

Amazon hasn’t ramped up its Prime Now pantry delivery service since the deal to acquire Whole Foods was announced, but it looks like another delivery company has taken notice. Instacart has moved into the counties surrounding Richmond, reports the Times-Dispatch. Right now, however, there’s somewhat
spotty service in the city. Some lucky folks, though, can order from Wegmans, Whole Foods Market, Costco, Petco and CVS. Service for Publix starts this weekend. Here are the zip codes with delivery service: 23146, 23059, 23060, 23228, 23294, 23233, 23103, 23238, 23229, 23226, 23230, 23173, 23221, 23219, 23225, 23235, 23113, 23114, 23236, 23112, 23832. instacart.com.

Brenner Pass, Metzger Bar & Butchery’s the Swizz-inflected sibling located in Scott’s Addition, will soon have company. Richmond BizSense reports that the owners plan to open Chair Lift, a coffee shop serving sandwiches and baked goods, in August. brennerpassrva.com.

And coffee shop Cafe Zata is planning to open a second location in Manchester at 700 Bainbridge St. in August, Richmond BizSense also reports, which — be still my heart — is within walking distance of Style’s offices. There will be a patio, sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, doughnuts based on recipes from Dixie Donuts and Gelati Celesti ice cream. cafezata.com.

A self-described dessert cafe will soon open the doors of 306 E. Grace St., the old Monumental Coffee space. Mason and Ajin Gray will open Monchou, reports the Times-Dispatch, and will focus on French pastries and coffee. instagram.com/monchourva.

Two other spots, sadly, bite the dust. The Jerk Pit, at 2713 W. Broad St., is no longer in operation. Sabai and Ya-Ya’s Cookbook’s Joe Kiatsuranon plans to open a restaurant in the space, reports Richmond magazine. And Vietnamese restaurant Royal Restaurant in Gold’s Gym Plaza closed on Monday, July 3.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Dipping Cheese, Whole Foods + More

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 12:15 PM

In the summer, things slow down a little. The openings, the closings, the plans and expectations for the Richmond dining scene — none of it is quite as hopping as usual. Nonetheless, the local world keeps on turning. The Weekly Food Notes took a hiatus last week, so we’re doing a little catch-up.

Hey, hey! The Richmond Wine Station is now open, it announced on its Facebook page. For more details, follow this link to a little story I did about it a while back. richmondwinestation.com

The Times-Dispatch reports that the new Sauer Center development where Pleasant’s Hardware had resided most of my adult life -- and which will be anchored by Whole Foods -- has been conditionally approved by the city. Um, conditionally? Has anyone told Jeff Bezos?

The Pit and the Peel, VCU’s favorite juice spot, opened its second location in Carytown in the former Pomegranate space at 3321 W. Cary St. You can expect an expanded menu and plenty of store swag on offer. thepitandthepeel.com.

The owners of the Pig & the Pearl have sold the restaurant’s building, coincidentally right across the street from the future Whole Foods, for the tide sum of $1.2 million, reports Richmond BizSense. They’re in a dispute with one of their investors, but Season and Mathew Appelget say the sale has nothing to do with it, and the restaurant will continue to operate. pigandpearl.com.

Nothing succeeds like success. Idle Hands Bread Co. is opening its second location at 407 Strawberry St., Richmond magazine reports. That’s the old Strawberry Wok and Sushi space. For another look at Idle Hands and owner Jay Metzler, follow this link. facebook.com/idlehandsbread.

Did I mention that Brenner Pass, the latest from the folks at Metzger Bar & Butchery, opened last week for dinner? You’ll find James Beard Award-nominated chef Brittanny Anderson at 3200 Rockbridge St. in Scott’s Addition serving Alpine-inflected cuisine. Obviously that means fondue, but also other dishes such as fritto misto with white anchovy, fennel, onion, lemon, and trout grenobloise with pommes fondant, lemon and parsley. brennerpassrva.com.

Mean Bird, the fried chicken food truck, opened a permanent spot in the old Sticky Rice To Go Go spot at 2227 W. Main St. tomorrow, while Hanami Sushi closed the same day in Glen Allen. meanbirdrva.com.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Richmond Breweries Show Their Stuff at the Virginia Craft Beer Cup Awards

There were plenty of local winners.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 2:51 PM

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild hosted its annual Virginia Craft Beer Cup awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, at WestRock in downtown Richmond. This competition highlights statewide craft breweries and their brews. It’s the largest state competition of its kind in the United States.

This year, 356 beers were submitted in 24 categories from breweries all across the Virginia. The blind-tasting competition was managed by master Beer Judge Certification Program judge Tom Cannon with the assistance of 40 other judges. Breweries were limited to four entries, and outfits with multiple locations could only enter four beers as well.

Winners included Virginia’s oldest craft breweries, such as Legend Brewing Co. and Starr Hill Brewing and some of the newest, including Hammer & Forge Brewing Co. and Heroic Aleworks. Some of the largest, such as Green Flash Brewing and Hardywood Park Craft Brewing were winners, too.

Richmond-area breweries made the city proud, with 10 breweries earning medals in 13 categories. Garden Grove Brewing Co. earned three medals in two categories. Trapezium Brewing Co., Castleburg Brewery and Taproom, and Ardent Craft Ales earned two awards each. Other Richmond breweries taking home medals were Strangeways Brewing, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Center of the Universe Brewing Co. Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Legend Brewing Co.and Extra Billy’s Smokehouse and Brewery.

With nearly 200 breweries in Virginia, this list of award-winning beers can help you plan your next trip around the state.

Weekly Food Notes: Lawsuits, Boxed Lunches + More

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 12:53 PM

You don’t need to worry about going hungry when you visit the Valentine. Fan District restaurant Garnett’s Cafe has opened a second location once filled by Sally Bell’s Kitchen. Garnett’s will continue the tradition of boxed lunches and is now accepting to-go orders for those in a rush. Its hours are Mondays-Fridays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. garnettsdowntown.com.

Westhampton Pastry Shop is opening a new spot in the former Mixing Bowl space, reports Richmond BizSense. Check this space for news about its opening.

Now, you can get local and organic meals offered by Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market delivered right to your front doorstep. The grocery is now taking orders for gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and wraps, plus drinks and sides. Don’t worry, you carnivores are included, too. ellwoodthompsons.com.

You might remember Frits Huntjens from his now-closed restaurant, 1 North Belmont. Unfortunately, his latest project, Petersburg’s Farmers Market Restaurant & Bar is defunct as well. BizSense reports that the developers of the historic building are suing Huntjens for damages and unpaid rent.

On Monday, June 5, 10 local breweries earned medals in 13 categories at the annual Virginia Craft Beer Cup awards hosted by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, including Ardent Craft Ales, Castleburg Brewery and Taproom, Center of the Universe Brewing Co., Extra Billy’s Smokehouse and Brewery, Garden Grove Brewing Co., Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Legend Brewing Co., Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Strangeways Brewing and Trapezium Brewing Co. virginiacraftbrewers.org.

The developers of Libbie Mill Midtown are so over Southern Season, which filed for bankruptcy last year and abruptly closed its Richmond store. The busy folks at Richmond BizSense report: “An entity tied to Richmond-based Gumenick Properties, the developer of Libbie Mill, is suing former Southern Season CEO W. Clay Hamner and CFO Brian Fauver for fraud and more than $350,000 in damages over an agreement tied to the store’s lease in its short-lived local location.” Pay the rent, folks, pay that rent.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Jam-Packed Food Festivals + More

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 1:29 PM

Bellytimber Tavern is no more, but fear not! Owner and operator Patrick Stamper says it will reopen as Beauvine in late August. He hasn’t divulged the new concept. “As our city changes, so do we,” he said in a news release. “Our building is in need of some love that demands us to close for a spell and we feel like the time is right to make some significant changes and explore some new ideas."

South Side stalwart O’Tooles Restaurant & Pub is planning another location. “Owner John O’Toole said he’s looking on Midlothian Turnpike near Charter Colony Parkway (in the same center where Martin’s Super Markets is closing a store),” reports the Times-Dispatch, “but he hasn’t signed a lease.” facebook.com/otoolesrva.

Sadly, the first Lidl stores won’t open in Richmond. That honor goes to Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads. Keep your eyes peeled, though -- Lidl will unlock the doors of its three Richmond-area locations sometime this summer. Just not on June 15. lidl.com.

More Korean fried chicken is coming to the Fan. BonChon will open at 308 N. Laurel St. and will be the company’s fourth Richmond-area outpost. The concept isn’t new to the neighborhood -- BB.Q Chicken, also a chain based in Korea, opened in the old Shoryuken Ramen at 900 W. Franklin St. earlier this year. bonchon.com.

Paul Keevil is at it again. The longtime owner of Millie’s Diner, Tio Pablo Taqueria and LuLu’s plans to open a coffee house, Café Clang, this summer at 29 N. 17th St. right in between his two other Shockoe Bottom restaurants. “Clang is somewhat of an extension of LuLu’s,” Keevil is quoted in Richmond BizSense. “The goal was to find a way to make all of our customers comfortable, because we get so busy on the weekends and we want to have another option for them to stay and dine.”

Yaki, a Japanese tavern, is the latest concept from Rogue Gentlemen owner John Maher, and will open Friday, June 3, at 6 p.m., with yakitori-style chicken skewers and Maher’s always creative cocktails. facebook.com/yakirichmond.

You have two festivals and one event to choose from this weekend, but it won’t be hard to hit all three. The Richmond Greek Festival starts Thursday, June 1, and runs until Sunday, June 4 at Sts. Helen and Constantine Greek Orthodox Church at 30 Malvern Ave. And you can get a look behind the scenes right here. greekfestival.com.

The delicious overload that is Broad Appetit actually starts the night before at Off-Broad Appetit. On Saturday, June 3, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., a plethora of chefs from all over the country will serve their best at Pasture, at 416 E. Grace St., to benefit FeedMore. broadappetit.com/off-broad-2017.html.

Broad Appetit takes over Broad Street between Henry and Adams streets on Sunday, June 4, and more than 70 chefs will be on hand with $3 tasting plates. These dishes are up for awards, so festival-goers will be the real beneficiaries of this annual competition. broadappetit.com.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Opening, Winning + More

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 12:15 PM

And the winner is … Tanya Cauthen of Belmont Butchery! Confronted with grill pans and a pot of boiling water, the butcher was quickly able to jettison any plans she had that demanded an oven and crushed the competition handily on Food Network's "Chopped." Want to know more? Here's a behind-the-scenes account about Cauthen's episode.

The bomb scare that rocked the nation turned out to be a bomb-shaped alarm clock, the Times Dispatch reports. Police cordoned off Daphne Page’s car in the Short Pump Whole Foods parking lot and took her to the Henrico County jail, where she spent the weekend on a charge of the manufacture, possession or use of explosives. She was released Monday, May 22, with the charges still pending.

The Stables at Belmont opened in the old Zeus Gallery Cafe space at 201 N. Belmont Ave. Franklin Inn owner Steve Gooch put Evan Campbell in the kitchen of his new venture that will serve new American cuisine and craft cocktails, along with a wide variety of wine.

Hamooda Shami, owner of Don’t Look Back and the New York Deli, unlocked the doors of his latest restaurant, 11 Months, last week in the old Curry Craft space at 2915 W. Cary St. He describes it as a rotating pop-up. The first theme, Best Friends Forever, will morph into something entirely different by its April deadline next year.

Capital Ale House is planning a new restaurant, Fest Biergarten, in the Woodlake Commons Shopping Center this summer. With an emphasis on beer and the great outdoors, you can expect plenty to drink and charcuterie.

The former Shockoe Steakhouse spot, at 14 N. 18th St., is about to be transformed, Richmond BizSense reports. Minibar Richmond, owned by Ashley Ramsey, will focus on cocktails, but also will serve lunch and dinner. Ramsey plans a July opening.

Friday, May 19, 2017

11 Months Opens in Carytown

Grab your BFF and settle in.

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Think of it as a really long pop-up.

The latest concept to hit Richmond is 11 Months, in the old Curry Craft space at 2915 W. Cary St. in Carytown, courtesy of Hamooda Shami, owner of the New York Deli and Don’t Look Back.

This is how it works: There’s a big clock on the wall counting towards 11 months from the opening date, May 17. Originally, that would have been the deadline for the restaurant: Shami was going to close it and then, with the help of Campfire & Co., change the theme, menu and design and reopen a month later. Then he’d repeat the process. That idea has been modified.

“[One] major shift we've made is to make eleven months the maximum time frame,” says Shami. “This will allow us a ton of flexibility on the style of pop-ups we can use in the space, with some lending themselves to shorter time frames.”

The restaurant’s inaugural theme is Best Friends Forever, he says. You’ll see picnic tables and lots of camp- and friendship-related décor. “My favorite element is one small area we've set aside as our ‘friend wall’ where some regulars are getting their photo taken and hung up for the duration of the pop-up,” says Shami.

You’ll see some familiar faces at 11 Months. Nate Gutierrez, co-owner of Don’t Look Back and Shami’s partner in the venture, is at the helm of the kitchen with Justin Croppe. “[They’re] really enjoying the creative freedom the pop-up model provides,” says Shami.

The three sections of the menu delineate friendship. Light fare is dubbed “casual acquaintances” while lunch becomes “legitimate buddies.” Dinner grabs the top spot: “best friends forever.”

And it’s an eclectic mix of dishes.

You’ll find chicken escabeche with arugula, red potatoes and roasted peppers with a quote from Marlene Dietrich: “It’s the friends that you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.” Then there’s the grilled steak with artichoke potato hash and asparagus. An Emily Dickinson quote succinctly punctuates that dish: “My friends are my estate.” Or would you like to try the spicy tuna salad sandwich with capers, jalapeño and a soft boiled egg? After all, “Friends will help you move, real friends will help you move a body,” says novelist Steven J. Daniels.

Former Don’t Look Back Bar Manager Amanda Davis doubles down on the theme with cocktails such as the Buddy System made with Bulleit bourbon, strawberries, basil and rhubarb syrup and the B.F.F.E. — a fragrant concoction of rose-infused vodka, soda water, lemon juice and rose buds.

Originally, Shami was going to launch the same concept at the same time in Charlottesville. “After some thought,” he says, “I realized trying to do this in two locations would be lunacy.”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A New Biergarten from Capital Ale House for South Side

Put on your lederhosen and lift a stein.

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 10:36 AM

Biergartens are hot and the latest, Fest Biergarten, is coming from Capital Ale House later in the summer in the Woodlake Commons Shopping Center. The idea is to strip down the menu to sausages, cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches and big pretzels — simple fare that marries well with beer.

Although indoor seating will be available, the outdoor aspect — the biergarten — will be Fest’s focus. And you’ve probably noticed it already — it’s not hard to extrapolate that the new restaurant’s name is a shortening of Oktoberfest, Germany’s biggest beer party, where outdoor drinking and sausages figure prominently.

You can expect local craft beer, as well as beer from Germany and other parts of Europe. For nonbeer drinkers, wine and root beer on tap will also be available. Owner Matt Simmons wants Fest to be family friendly.

“It’s right on the way home for the thousands of people who live in Woodlake, Hampton Park, the three fox neighborhoods of Fox Croft, Creek, and Fire, Magnolia Green and the many other neighborhoods in the area,” said Simmons in a news release.

“The locals will find this to be a fun, casual place on Hull Street that’s locally owned and not a big chain,” added Simmons’ partner, Chris Holder.

And, for the busy folks homeward bound, Fest's food and beer can be packaged and taken away for a personal beer festival on the back patio.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Lidl to Open June 15

It's the latest shot over the bow in Richmond's grocery wars.

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 2:49 PM

Lidl announced that it would open its first U.S. stores June 15. The catch? The discount grocery chain didn’t say which of the 20 planned stores would be first. The rest, Supermarket News reports, will open sometime later in the summer.

“Lidl’s entry promises additional points of pressure to a U.S. grocery market already struggling with overcapacity, slowing sales affected by deflation and price competitiveness threatening profits,” according to Supermarket News.

Richmond area locations include 12151 W. Broad St., 5110 S. Laburnum Ave. and 1311 Mall Drive in Chesterfield.

Let the games begin, Lidl. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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